By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The South East Revival Group (SERG) has said it was wrong for the Nigerian military to declare the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terror group in a bid to justify an unwarranted invasion of Nnamdi Kanu’s home.
While calling on the federal government to immediately withdraw troops from Igboland to allow the leaders to conclude their dialogue with the young people engaged in self-determination, the group condemned the leaders in the region for their hasty ban on the activities of the group at a time its efforts towards resolving the current security challenges in south eastern Nigeria were yielding fruits.
The SERG in a statement by its National Coordinator, Chief Willy Ezugwu urged the Nigerian government to be mindful of the danger inherent in retaining the deployed troops in the region as it has been misunderstood by the agitators, saying that the IPOB should be engaged in dialogue as the government did with the Arewa youths after their quit notice to Igbos in the north.
“For us, there is no alternative to dialogue. Proper communication and enlightenment remain important tools to ensuring harmony in the country at this time as every part of the country is feeling marginalised in one way or the other.
“We imagine what would have happened if troops were deployed to the north after the eviction notice to the Igbos in the 19 northern states despite call for their arrest by some citizens.
“But the Nigerian government gave the leaders in the region the opportunity to exhaust all possible dialogue windows for the resolution of the issue, even at a time the Arewa youths adamantly insisted that the Igbos in the north must go.
“Why the hasty deployment troops in South East and invasion of Nnamdi Kanu’s home town, under the guise of a military training exercise, at a time dialogue with the youths and consultations were on-going?
“In the same way the Arewa youths were managed, the federal government should handle the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other similar groups in the South East to ensure that the government’s intensions were not misconstrued and the mounting tension in the region is dowsed.
“We recall that the peace efforts of the same South East leaders who now hastily banned the activities of IPOB amid dialogue led to the group recanting its directive to its members to disrupt Anambra State governorship election.
“While commending the South East leaders for their earlier peace efforts but condemn the ban of IPOB’s activities without concluding its dialogue with them, we call on the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to listen to the voice of restructuring to mitigate the current youth restiveness in the country.
“The only alternative to restructuring is an imminent dismemberment of Nigeria, a sad event that must be avoided by all of Nigerians at any cost.
“Paramount to peace in the South East is the immediate withdrawal of federal troops in the region as the Egwu Eke II exercise is obviously truncating the current peace efforts by the leaders who have been pressured to ban the group.
“The allegations of wanton killing of unarmed south easterners and the images on the social media are very worrisome and the military must be reminded that after their operations, they could be held to account for their deeds if they engage in extrajudicial killings in the region or elsewhere in the country.
“Therefore, the Mohammed Yusuf experience which led to escalation of Boko Haram onslaught of federal troops, establishments and innocent Nigerians must not be replayed in the South East.
“We strongly believe that it is not within the Nigerian military’s constitutional powers to declare any organization a terror group”, the SERG stated.